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Harrah's joins Slovakia venture

14 Oct 2009

By Arnold M. Knightly

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Harrah's Entertainment has attached its name to another international dream project.

The world's largest casino company by revenue announced Tuesday its involvement with Metropolis, a $2.2 billion resort project planned for Slovakia in Central Europe.

Development plans call for a retail mall, water and adventure parks, a golf course, hotels and casinos, a release by TriGranit Development Corp., the Budapest, Hungary-based developer of the project, shows.

The project is planned to break ground at the end of 2010 and be built in phases over five years. The first phase would include the openings of three hotels and a casino in the first quarter of 2012.

Harrah's is still negotiating the financial terms of its involvement with TriGranit, which owns and is developing projects in seven countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

Harrah's Managing Director of Development, Andrew Tottenham, said at a press conference in the Slovakian capital of Bratislava that the Metropolis could be followed by other projects in Europe but not on the same scale, according to Reuters.

Tottenham said construction is scheduled to begin next year, with Harrah's operating the hotel-casino.

Metropolis is planned for 74 acres outside Bratislava. It would be within 137 miles of four international airports that handle 40 million passengers a year.

Harrah's signed an agreement in 2005 to develop a Caesars-branded hotel-casino as part of a master plan community south of Madrid.

The company suspended plans in early 2008 for a resort in Slovenia after Harrah's failed to reach an agreement with the area developer, Hit Group.

Harrah's also withdrew from a proposed $2.6 billion resort project in the Bahamas in 2008. Harrah's had a 43 percent interest in a joint venture with Baha Mar Resorts Ltd. and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide to develop a six-hotel, mixed-use resort.

The termination of the Baha Mar agreements by Harrah's is the focus of lawsuits now in the New York State Supreme Court.

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